Confession: I'm a Vim user

atsmith813 profile image Alex Smith ・2 min read

I have a confession to make...I'm one of those people - an avid Vim user. I do my absolute best to not reveal that fact. It can be a polarizing subject in the community. I'm here to confess I'm strongly on team Vim.

How I learned Vim

When I first started Software Engineering the developers I was working with used tmate to do pair coding. If you're not familiar, it's terminal sharing via SSH. This was a time before many of the now popular tools such as Teletype for Atom or Visual Studio Live Share were a thing. When in the terminal Vim is a natural choice. I learned by doing because I wanted to participate in pair coding. I also ran through vimtutor a few times.

Why I still use Vim

My professional background is actually in Finance - I used to work on Wall Street. In that field, there's a strong culture that you should N-E-V-E-R be touching your mouse when using Excel. It even got to a point where analysts were ripping off the F1 key from their keyboard so they wouldn't accidentally open the Help Me window which often crashed Excel.

Over time I was all-in on this idea of never touching the mouse to perform my work. I realized it's very efficient and actually kind of fun πŸ™ˆ.

Once I discovered Vim I didn't need any convincing. It was a natural fit for me. I have tried several editors (Atom, Sublime, VS Code) with Vim mode enabled and they're all great for different reasons! But I can't help be drawn to the "purist" feel of using straight Vim where there are fewer helpers. And while most keyboard shortcuts work in other editors with Vim mode enabled, not all of them do without adding it yourself (looking at you :w).

My Vim setup

What's funny is overtime I've added several plugins to my Vim setup (including an autocomplete using YouCompleteMe). So in some ways I recognize I'm contradicting myself πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™‚οΈ.

Here is my current Vim setup if you're curious:

What do you think?

Feels great to confess all of this! What are your thoughts? Do you like Vim? Do you hate it?

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atsmith813 profile

Alex Smith


A borderline cold brew coffee addict and a Florida native - my name is Alex. Oh yeah, I'm also a Software Engineer at DEVπŸ‘¨πŸ½β€πŸ’»


Editor guide

The key thing I learned when I was starting out was that, if you can reach a computer without sitting down in front of it, it probably has vi ready to go. I generally use a graphical editor locally--either an IDE or whatever the default text editor is, depending on what I'm working on--and vi or vim (hopefully the former is an alias for the latter) remotely so that I don't need to deal with getting a GUI running or for anything local that requires fussing around with the "weird" characters, like control characters and other non-printables.


Vim is definitely my first love, but I have to admit that I spend time between Vim and VS Code.

What makes Vim so appealing to me is that it’s lightweight - meaning it doesn’t take a great deal of time to open like an IDE would. I prefer to keep everything in the terminal if I can or one app if I can like VS Code does.


Do you use a lot of Vim plugins to behave more like VS code?


Not really tbh. I like a more stripped down Vim here in my later years of coding. I used to use Janus and on some machines I still have Janus installed.


I've heard memes and clout around using Vim, but I never got into it. I've seen people use it, but I personally don't think I'd like it just because I switch files frequently and like to see my file directory at all times. Plus, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Vim has auto-complete.

I'm not bashing Vim, I just was too lazy and busy to ever try it or learn using it. But, I'm open to change if people can convince me.


I enjoy the memes πŸ˜‚.

Plugins can definitely assist. What I use is:

These days it can be difficult to make a super-strong case to say someone needs to learn Vim. My 2 cents are if you're even just a little curious about it, turn on Vim mode in any editor of your choice and see how it feels for a ~week.


I may try that πŸ˜‚ Thanks for the advice!


Vim has plugins for autocomplete. There are also plugins that will display directory structures.

It's not for everyone but you may find yourself leaning towards it and learning it eventually should your career take you down that road.


Love it πŸ˜†


How long does the configuration of Vim take? I've never used it or attempted to use it, and never even knew it would even take time to be configured until I looked at your post.


As little or as much time as you want. Your don't have to spend any time on it at all if you're happy with vim out of the box. Most aren't. OTOH if you want all the bells and whistles and keep up with the latest trends and plugins, it could be a continuous journey with no end in sight. It's all up to what you want to do with it.


I'll second what Demian said - it takes as long as you want. A lot of the Vim users I know personally use a distribution of Vim called Janus which comes with most of the popular plugins pre-installed (including most, if not all, of the ones I set up individually above). It's a quick and easy way to get started!


I don't know it much.

I spent years programming with Emacs which felt natural to me so I think I understand you!

I support your choice!

Go Alex!


Thanks for sharing this.
How do you switch to browser and use it without using the keyboard??

That’s something I’ve been struggling with